1. Identify your goals. Why are you changing your nutrition habits? What are your needs and desires for your body, both emotionally and physically? Emotional desires could be to feel confident, or to look a certain way. Physical desires can be to increase work capacity, strength, and/or energy. For example, my currently goals are to lose body fat-to look better and to have less unnecessary weight to move during my workouts, gain muscle to lift more weight and perform gymnastics better. I also have a vain reason to gain muscle– to have my muscles show my hard work.
2. It is going to be tough. Changing your nutrition habits is going to be hard. At first when you first change your diet you are going to experience hunger sometimes. At the beginning sometimes you experience it a lot. Think about it…if you ate too much in the first place, your body and stomach obviously got use to eating that way. The stomach and body are going to have to adjust to a change in the nutrition.
3. Set a time period in which you will be dedicated. Choosing that time period in which your best dedication will happen is essential. Making sure that you are not going to start or be on a new nutrition plan when you go on a vacation or have a special event. For example, I chose a time period that was six weeks after I gave birth (because I was cleared for physical activity postpartum). I knew that I would be committed during Easter which would be challenge, but my nutrition plan time period ended before my husband’s birthday, so I could let loose and not worry about nutrition as much.
4. Be Prepared. Failure to plan is planning to fail. Think about your daily routines. Are you working out that day or is it a rest day? Your nutrition plan should account for that. Next, knowing when and how your meals will be made and consumed also needs to be considered into your plan. When are you going to prepare your food? How will you measure it? Do you need to transport your food? These are all questions to consider.
5. Have a buddy, family member, or spouse do the nutrition program with you. I first started a nutrition program in college with my Mom. She lost what I call as the “Mom” butt on the nutritional program. I of course in college gained the typical “Freshman Fifteen”. I became interested in the program after I saw my Mom’s success. Together we attended weekly nutrition meetings and I lost that “Freshman Fifteen”.
My brother often does competitive nutrition challenges with his friends. They will put some prize on the line, like money, or some action- maybe an embarrassing action. He often works hard and achieves his weight goal through this method.
The best insurance of success is if the another person in the household is joining your nutrition challenge.
6. Have accountability. There are different forms of accountability.
a. Self Regulation: Keeping track of daily nutritional success with stars, X’s on a calendar or marbles taken out of a jar for each pound lost.
b. Group Accountability: Attending nutritional group weekly for check-ins of food logs for the week, force us to report to another person.
c. One-on-One Coaching: Depending on your goals, you will need to decide if you have individual needs different from the average person in group accountability.
7. Have a plan that meets your needs. These are largely based on your goals but sometimes there are dietary restrictions that individuals have such as being vegetarian or vegan. There can be allergy/digestive needs that greatly affect your diet. Choose a plan or have one created that accounts for your needs.
8. Find inspiration. There can be people that we look up to in the nutrition and health arena. They can be people that we follow on Instagram, Facebook, or our friends or family. See what they do to stay on track. It could be using their recipes, great healthy practices or just imagine their mindset in regards to their nutrition.
9. Know your pitfalls. We all have those items that are not on our healthy plan; donuts, ice cream, alcohol, soda, pizza etc. Substitutes can be one effective way to cure our vices, such as having sparkling flavored water instead of soda, carrying a bottle of water at a party so you have something to drink in your hand other than alcohol. Having a flavored protein shake instead of ice cream.
Sometimes, avoiding them all together is best for us. For my husband and I we don’t go out to restaurants during our designated time period. We can’t trust ourselves to order healthy.
10. Sustainability Is the nutrition program you choosing going to help you change your habits? Can you live your life on this plan or is it a good jolt towards changes? And ultimately can it sustain you. Eating only one way extremely might not help in the longevity of our lives. Be weary of liquid diets or diets that only have you eat one food group. They are not going to help change habits for long term success.
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CF-L1, CrossFit Kids Certified
Natasha has been helping clients at Bios since 2012 and is head of our CrossFit Kids program.